11:08 GMT +323 July 2018
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    'If West Presses Ankara on S-400s, Turkey May Raise NATO Base Issue' - Journo

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    The diplomatic spat between the US and Turkey escalated this past week amid Ankara's persistence on buying the Russian S-400 missile system, as well as a US lawmaker's hostile reaction to President Erdogan's reelection last Sunday. Speaking to Sputnik, lawmaker Egemen Bagis and journalist Ceyhun Bozkurt explained the reasons for US frustration.

    US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell has warned that Ankara would be hit by the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if it didn't abandon its S-400 deal with Moscow, adding that Turkey's F-35 deliveries may also be in jeopardy.

    Meanwhile, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff has urged his fellow lawmakers not to congratulate Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his reelection in last Sunday's presidential vote, suggesting that he won "only by decimating the opposition through arrests, violence and squashing freedom of the press." Schiff's comments prompted Turkey's ruling Justice & Development Party lawmaker Egemen Bagis to hit back, urging the US lawmaker to "start accepting democracy" and "respect the will of the Turkish people."

    Speaking to Sputnik Turkey about the tensions in Turkish-US relations, Bagis explained that in spite of US threats, Ankara will continue to forge its own path.

    "The meeting between Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his US counterpart Mike Pompeo last month [which led to a 'road map' on the contested Syrian city of Manbij] was one of the most important diplomatic initiatives in recent years," Bagis said. 

    "The steps we are taking together with allies in the region, particularly in Syria and Iraq, can be characterized as an important signal demonstrating Turkey's intention to continue to build a balance in relations with the US, the European Union, Russia, Syria, Iran, and Iraq," the lawmaker added.

    Bagis emphasized that Ankara will continue to work to expand cooperation not only with the Washington, but with Moscow, Beijing, Delhi, and Brussels as well. "Turkey is the easternmost country in the West and the westernmost country in the East. Thanks to the determination demonstrated by the Turkish people on June 24, our country has taken one more step towards a prosperous future," the lawmaker concluded.

    Turkey to Face More US Pressure

    Political observer and journalist Ceyhun Bozkurt was less optimistic about the prospects for Turkish-US relations, telling Sputnik Turkey that the US threats following last Sunday's elections were a sign that Washington is not going to reduce its pressure on Ankara in the coming period.

    "We have become accustomed to hearing sharp statements by the US about the S-400s. However, what draws one's attention with the latest attacks is that they came immediately after the elections. This is most likely based on Washington's desire to increase pressure on Ankara. In this situation, it is important what kinds of steps the new Turkish government will take," Bozkurt said.

    Suggesting that US policy on Turkish air defense was aimed at leaving Ankara defenseless, Bozkurt emphasized that the issue was just the tip of a much larger iceberg.

    "It's clear that the issues about which Turkey and the United States have disagreements are much deeper than they may seem. The thing is, the US does not want Turkey to produce its own air defense systems. This policy is aimed at making Turkey vulnerable. The experience of past years with the Patriot systems is proof. The US is trying to prevent Turkey from producing its own systems, while Ankara intends to do everything in its power to develop its domestic defense network," the journalist explained.

    Bozkurt also stressed that the new Turkish government will not back down on the purchase of S-400s. "In the framework of their common interests, Turkey and Russia enjoy serious economic, military and political cooperation, cooperation which continues to grow. Therefore I don't think Ankara will backtrack on the issue of the S-400s," he said.

    "Meanwhile, if the West continues to adhere to such a hostile attitude toward Ankara, in the future there could be talk about the closure of NATO military bases in Turkey," Bozkurt warned. "Ultimately, if the US continues to threaten Turkey, both sides will suffer, but the greatest losses from this confrontation will be faced by the country that loses an ally like Turkey," the journalist concluded.

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    Tags:
    relations, diplomacy, S-400, F-35, NATO, Wess Mitchell, Adam Schiff, Egemen Bagis, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, United States, Russia
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